In the AFC, it’s Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady, two legends in the game set to collide. In the NFC, the best and most heated rivalry in the game is set to feature as San Francisco 49ers take on Seattle Seahawks. Two incredible storylines converging in order to deliver one verdict. Will it be the one expected by sportsbooks: Broncos and Seahawks to advance into the Super Bowl XVLIII? Or will there be an upset or – dare we say it – two?
Patriots (12-4, 4-4 away) vs. Broncos (13-3, 7-1 home)
Analysis: Sportsbooks send the Patriots into the AFC Championships as the decided underdogs at +200 to win outright, a market evaluation that few in NFL betting circles are taking issue with at all. Mainly because the Patriots’ walking wounded is an ever-growing list of stars including Jerod Mayo, Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork and Aaron Herrnandez. The only enviable football bauble still shining brightly is Tom Brady. And as far as NFL goes, where everything begins and ends with a quarterback, you need the team’s leader to be hanging around when it matters most.
Indeed, Bill Belichick would have had all to do to try to replace Brady if the star quarterback had been amongst the injured. Fortunately, that wasn’t his lot. And, as it stands, he’s taken the big hits to his Patriots in stride in order to navigate a course into the Conference Championships regardless, making him not only one of the best coaches in the league but a tactical genius in the eyes of many. (Or a very lucky man). His latest tactical innovation LeGarrette Blout recorded 150 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the Divisional playoff tilt with Indianapolis Colts. As well, the Patriots et all rose to the occasion to rout the Colts 43-22, an outcome that certainly wasn’t predicted by sportsbooks as they’d tipped the game on a rather close NFL spread.
What this tells us is that it would be a grievous error to underestimate the creative genius Belichick and his equally prolific quarterback. Certainly, they can give the Broncos a run for their money. But the only way the Patriots would be the value NFL pick to win outright here is if they were (without a shadow of a doubt) the better team. Which they aren’t.
Denver Broncos are the class of the AFC this season and the Patriots will have all to do to turn the odds in their favour. In the Broncos, listed at -240 NFL odds to win outright, they face a much better and complete team than the Colts were. Peyton Manning and his offensive morsels such as Decker, Welker and Demaryius Thomas (to name a few) can wreck havoc with opposing defenses. As well, on defense, the Broncos stack up well and Brady will not have an easy time of it, by any stretch of the imagination.
Frankly, while Brady and Belichick pulled off a commendable result over Colts, it’s hard to see how they could repeat that performance against the Broncos on Sunday. It would take some out-of-this-world strategic concoction to derail Manning off his Super Bowl course this season.
NFL Picks: Denver Broncos to win outright
San Francisco 49ers (12-4, 6-2 away) vs. Seattle Seahawks (13-3, 7-1 home)
Analysis: Much is being made of the Seahawks’ blowout win over 49ers in Week 2 NFL betting, to the point that many NFL bettors are basing on it their NFL picks for this NFC Conference Championship game. Further clouding perceptions about this matchup is the fact that sportsbooks are cornering not only this game in Seattle’s camp at -180 NFL odds to win outright, but also the Super Bowl itself. Seahawks are tipped as the top favourites at +175 at Bet365 to win it all.
But do the Seahawks really warrant such a strong overall vote of confidence that is not just at the expense of San Francisco 49ers but also at the expense of Denver Broncos and to a lesser extent New England Patriots? Are they really the best in the NFL this season?
Seattle Seahawks took a step towards proving their market value with a 23-15 victory over New Orleans Saints, although as far as victories go it wasn’t gasp-inducing stuff. Then again, the Seahawks have been conservative on offense all season long, doing just enough but not really overdoing it.
By contrast, the 49ers deposited two solid accounts to beat Green Bay Packers 23-20 and Carolina Panthers 23-10, proving they are a dangerous No.5 seed. Based on those accounts, the fact that the team is swelling in strength and have the momentum right now, and because they reached the Super Bowl last year (against the odds mind), we feel they can’t be written off even if sportsbooks list them rather disingenuously large at +160 NFL odds to win outright at Seattle.
To put it simply, if there is going to be an upset in the Conference round, this heated rivalry in the NFC is tailored for such an occasion. As such, we’re banking on the upset on our NFL picks in this matchup and backing San Francisco 49ers to the victory.
NFL Picks: San Francisco 49ers to win outright at +160 NFL odds